Book Release – The Witch and the Wish by Ryan Deckard

Raw Earth Ink is proud to present Ryan Deckard’s dark fantasy short story, The Witch and the Wish, book one in his Tales of Obsedea series, which will definitely whet your appetite for more.

When the defiant young Jacob turns a blind eye to centuries of legends, his fall into peril is inevitable. But destiny flies its own flight. Join Jacob in his death-to-glory escapades as he meets an evil witch who doesn’t threaten his life but desires to grant him a wish. A compelling story with a whirlpool of blazing action, dark mystery, and irrevocable consequences. THE WITCH AND THE WISH is a thrilling read for adults, teens, or anyone who has an appetite in forbidden adventures after dark.

Beautiful maps included

I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy of Mr. Deckard’s debut book. Found in paperback at lulu, Amazon, Barnes & Noble or in e-book on Kindle.

© 2021 | Ryan Deckard || Ryan can be found on Instagram @azraelwriter

Book Launch – Growl from the Sun by Braeden Michaels

Raw Earth Ink is proud to present Braeden Michaels’ new poetry chapbook, Growl from the Sun.

Description: Author and poet Braeden Michaels delves into the many-layered political realms in his newest collection, Growl from the Sun. Beginning with his fourteen-page magnum opus of the same name, he confronts and denounces modern society and the politics of the day. No stone is left unturned. There are no sides, no labels, only raw emotion and unbending truth. This gritty selection of poetry is sure to provoke introspection and deep conversations for any who dare open its pages.

I have been a fan of Braeden’s since I first found him almost five years ago. I consider this some of his very best work to date and it’s been such an honor to be able to work with him. If you’re looking for political poetry that doesn’t care about titles, affiliations, parties, or nations… look no further. And it’s not just politics, if you dig deeper into the message underneath, you’ll recognize all facets of humanity within this collection. Fans of Allen Ginsberg, the beat generation, and Tom Waits will (I think) especially appreciate this one.

I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy of his book. Found in paperback at lulu, Amazon, Barnes & Noble or in e-book on Kindle.

© 2021 | Braeden Michaels

Below Freezing Beach Ice Photography

I know, I know: I just posted a photography piece BUT it was such a calm beautiful day and the lighting was perfect. I didn’t even take the time to adjust or edit any of these. It was 9*F/-13C and felt really invigorating. I hope you enjoy these.

And if you have 35 seconds, turn on your sound and enjoy:

My camera battery died so I didn’t get a lot of photos, but I walked back off the beach feeling at peace and filled with joy and wonder.

tara caribou | ©2021 all photos and video by me

Early December Photography

Winter is basically my favorite time of year. The cold, the quiet, the snow. The feeling that everything is fresh and new. Though… well, it’s been a bit colder than I’d prefer, as I write this at 4:30am, it’s -10*F/-23C outside. There’s a thick layer of ice coated on the inside of every window in my house. Strangely, I’ll take this over hot, sunny days always.

I hope you enjoy a couple photos from the last couple weeks.

The volcano as seen from my driveway. That’s 50 miles away.
The light was phenomenal.
Snow bunnies love me…
…and I love them.
Before the snow got several feet deep.
My backyard.
Beautiful sunset, another afternoon with great lighting. Yes, afternoon. This was 4pm.
The lighting on the sea ice…
Last bit of sunset on the clouds.

tara caribou | ©2021 all photos by me

Book Review – Crawl Cram Grind Fail

Crawl Cram Grind Fail by Bill Gillard

The Publisher Link and the Amazon Link

I read this book on my e-reader. This is an unsolicited review.

Where to start? Well, I had not heard of this author until one of the publishers I follow (Potters Grove Press) advertised this new book and reading the “about” really drew me in and intrigued me. I was NOT disappointed! Not in the least. In fact, this is definitely one of my top five favorite reads this year.

The collection of short stories is dark, humorous, gritty, weird, unexpected, and oddly satisfying. The title is PERFECT. I felt like every single story encapsulated at least one of the words: Crawl, Cram, Grind, or Fail… and many times, more than one. This was a delightful and unexpected read. I looked forward to each time I got to sit down and read a story or two. It was that good.

My absolute favorite story of the bunch was the far-future, sarcastically funny tale: “The Moose Depart” which *almost* reminded me of Douglas Adams’ style of writing only (dare I say it) better. Honestly, Mr. Gillard could write a full-length novel in this world and I’d be one happy reader. But even taken at its written length, I still thoroughly enjoyed myself and told anyone (adult or child) near at hand the amazingly good story I’d just read.

In all fairness, there wasn’t a story included which I didn’t like. Every single one: excellent. But if you’re looking for “feel-good happy endings”… um, no. This isn’t it. That’s not to say the book is a downer. It’s not that either. For me, this was high-caliber short story writing as short stories SHOULD be. Reminiscent of my other favorite short story writers such as River Dixon, Philip K Dick, and Robert Birkhofer who all write super intelligent, deep stories that make you think long afterward. The kind that stick with you. The kind where they don’t have to explain every little detail or wrap it up at the end, but where you get to imagine a hundred different endings yourself. And THAT, to me, is the GOOD short story author. It gets in your bones.

I give this one 5/5 stars. Excellent length, awesome title, eye-catching cover, great editing, amazing storytelling. It just doesn’t get better than this. It really doesn’t. Highly highly recommended to those who enjoy short stories with a dark (but not disgusting) overtone.

Read more book reviews by following my Review Category.

be a good writer: read.
~tara caribou

**If this review was helpful or you’ve read it and want to add to the discussion, please let me know in the comments!

I will also, as a side-note, say, it may seem that I am harsh on many writers for their editing, formatting, grammar, punctuation, etc. I do so unapologetically. One, because this is a review, not a popularity contest. Two, because honest criticism should help us grow as artists.

The fact of the matter is, these things MATTER. A mathematician must use his tools and use them correctly to be an effective mathematician. A surgeon cannot simply say, “I know I can’t sew the wound closed but at least I could remove the appendix or whatever it’s called.” Same with writers. We can’t claim to be writers but refuse to use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. We can’t claim to be a photographer just because we know how to push the button on the camera (or phone). There’s an art to it.

So while I may appreciate the artist as a person and their words, I believe that it does us all a disservice to say lower quality editing is okay. Believe in yourself! Believe in the power of your words! Put the effort into being the very best you can be. Ask for help. Grow and learn.

20 Things I’m Thankful for Today

I was reading another blogger’s post earlier titled the very same thing and I thought, yep, that’s what I need to do this morning. In times of distress and anxiety, I find it best to do this: remain ever grateful.

  1. Winter in Alaska
  2. The wild rabbits on my property
  3. My best friend, even though he’s 4,000 miles away
  4. A warm home
  5. My mom
  6. Excellent health
  7. My WordPress friends & readers
  8. All my publishing clients
  9. My PC & phone
  10. Living near the ocean
  11. Living rurally
  12. Food and fresh clean water from the earth
  13. Sunsets
  14. The night sky
  15. Peaceful surroundings
  16. The love of a few dear friends
  17. Unbounded creativity
  18. Forgiveness
  19. My analytical mind
  20. The ever-present Creator of All, author of Light & Life

If you decide to do something like this, feel free to share in the comments or link to your own blog post so I (and others) can read it!

Light & Peace to you all, tara caribou

549 W. Hawthorne Drive (excerpt) by Darren Diarmuid

The following is an excerpt of the short story: 549 W Hawthorne Drive by Darren Diarmuid, which you can find in the anthology The Hawthorne Project. Inside you’ll find ten dark and creepy stories written by him and other amazing authors. I hope you enjoy this little snippet. Oh, and click any of the links below to buy.

That damn dog hasn’t stopped barking ever since Gladys died.

I still remember that day rather vividly. It was an exquisite Saturday afternoon and I had decided to treat myself to a gander at the collection of paintings and antiquities in the Chazen Museum of Art in the University of Wisconsin. I remember looking at ‘The Adoration of the Shepherds’ by Giorgio Vasari and thinking about how wonderful it is to be alive and how nice it is to finally take a little break from my busy schedule. I remember the peculiar taste of the bratwurst sandwich as I gazed at the glacial waterways. I remember standing on the observation deck of the State Capitol, glancing at its majestic Roman-Renaissance dome, admiring the views of the city and the lakes. I remember stopping my car on the way home to take pictures of the purple wood violet flowers in the meadows during that beautiful day in June.

And then as soon as I made it back home, I saw my neighbor, the elderly Mrs. Hawthorne rushing about her front yard, squinted, horrified eyes, calling for her Gladys. I rushed inside and pulled the curtains. I didn’t want to deal with it, and I still had some work to do, but I decided right then and there that I would take care of Mrs. Hawthorne in any way that I could. In a way, I felt responsible for her loss, but I couldn’t deal with what was happening right now.

Nowadays, I repay her quietly in my own way, walking her little Bolognese Elvis each evening, so she doesn’t need bother leaving the house as often. My small penance. Even buying him expensive treats and such occasionally. It’s been over a year and none of the other neighbors have even checked in on her, or asked how they could help after such a loss, which is just as well. If they did, then perhaps they would discover some things that they probably wouldn’t like to know.

But a lot has changed since then. In my personal life, at least. I’m not quite sure about the other neighbors; I don’t talk to them much. I’ve always been quite the worker, but this year I’ve decided to devote my life to it, sometimes working up to sixteen or eighteen hours a day.

Although I wish I hadn’t done this, because outside disturbances are proving this to be rather difficult, I’ve decided to assign myself the rigorous task of completing three thousand words this hour towards my upcoming data analysis project for work. Twenty minutes in and not even a quarter of the way completed that yet, the initial sounds of laughter from the neighbors to the right is testing my patience. Students. Adam and Chris, as I recall. Two roaring imbeciles in their mid-twenties who rent the house next to me. Adam doesn’t seem to leave the house very often, but Chris is restless. Together, they’re something wretched. Every day is another noise disturbance.

I’ve left the window on the latch to distract me from the ticking of the pendulum counting down the time I have left to complete this challenge, but I certainly wish I hadn’t. I can already smell the exhalation clouds of marijuana smoke filtering out past my window. Talks of smut. Laughs. Giggles. Then the crunching of an empty can of beer is casually disposed in the center of their lawn. I suspect that the loud music will start in precisely an hour and a half.

The little dog starts barking again, and although he’s probably snapping at the students or a squirrel, it reminds me that I haven’t walked him yet this evening. As soon as I finish my word count for this project, I scoop out a few high-end dog treats, leave the house, and avoid making eye contact with the students at all costs. I turn into the Hawthorne’s lawn at as fast a pace as my legs can muster, open her side gate, and toss a pumpkin and peanut-butter treat to Elvis, who deftly snatches it from the air. His tail starts wagging and the barking stops. Perhaps he’s happy to be fed, but I’d like to believe that we’ve somewhat bonded. As soon as he’s finished eating, I give him belly rubs for a few minutes. Then I get the harness and leash and we go for a walk around the road. I hum the tune of ‘That’s Life’ by Frank Sinatra as we start to walk, and just like usual, I keep my head tilted down towards the ground and avoid looking at the pesky students as they create little havocs and deplete their brain cells.

“Mr. Harris!” a woman calls as the other guests begin to arrive to their house, abandoning their cars all over the boys’ lawn.

Don’t look. Do not look at her.

“Mr. Harris!” she calls again, louder this time.

I look up and force a smile, realizing that there’s no way that I wouldn’t have heard her. She’s an attractive brunette with beautiful, sun-kissed skin. Loose, white shirt with a purple bra underneath and an open, black button-up shirt on her shoulders. Endearing smile. She’s holding a transparent glass with black cola in it. As I get closer, I can smell the vodka.

“Cute dog you’ve got there, Mr. Harris. What’s her name?”

“His,” I respond, gulping down saliva, nervously. “It’s a ‘he’; his name is Elvis.”

She walks right up to Elvis, kneels, and starts rubbing his head. As I look down, uncomfortably, wanting to leave and carry on with my walk, my eyes accidently glance at her cleavage, so I look away as quickly as possible, hoping that no one saw me or get the wrong impression. Elvis sniffs at her drink and then starts barking at her. She backs away.

“Sorry, buddy,” she says, with a sense of sass.

“He gets like that. I’m sorry. He’s not my dog. Just walking him… Sorry.”

“Whose dog is it?”

“Mrs. Hawthorne,” I say, pointing at her house.

“You’re so sweet,” she says in a voice that I can’t tell if it’s sincere or condescending. “I’ve heard some things about her, but everything is different. She’s so mysterious. She’s almost like something of folklore now at this stage.”

You can find Darren’s story, along with nine additional ones, in The Hawthorne Project. Each creepy tale interweaves with the others for a week of terror on Hawthorne Drive, a small cul-de-sac in Greenfield, Wisconsin. Buy it at lulu, Amazon, or on your Kindle.

Book Release – Derecho by J Matthew Waters

Raw Earth Ink is proud to present J Matthew Waters’ poetry chapbook, Derecho.

On August 10, 2020, with very little time to prepare, a derecho hit the city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa causing widespread devastation. Known for its tornadoes, no one anticipated a fast-moving hurricane-like storm with straight-line winds of up to 140 mph that would last over 45 minutes. The unprecedented storm heavily damaged the city, impacting every resident in some way or other.

Without power for thirteen days, author J Matthew Waters stepped outside his home to witness trees down, houses destroyed, and neighborhoods unrecognizable. These are the poems and photos that came out of those following days. Not as a journal, but as a reflection of his state of mind.

I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy of some Mr. Waters’ most introspective poetry to date. Found in paperback at lulu, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ingram or in e-book on Kindle.

© 2021 | J Matthew Waters

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